Betty Van

Photo of Betty Van

Swing vocalist Betty Van worked with a number of orchestras in the late 1930s and early 1940s, including those of Benny Goodman and Jack Teagarden. Van also worked solo and appeared on radio before retiring from show business to get married in 1942.

Born in Dos Palos, California, Van grew up in Fresno, where her father ran a meat market. She began her singing career on Los Angeles radio station KHJ at age 17. After graduating from high school, she toured with Kenny Baker’s West Coast orchestra before being invited to join Benny Goodman in mid-1937. Van remained with the Goodman for only a few months, replaced by Martha Tilton in October. After leaving Goodman, she sang on the nightclub circuit.

In 1939, Van was with Vito Musso’s orchestra. When Musso, a former Goodman saxophonist, turned his band over to Johnny “Scat” Davis in mid-1939, Van remained, but in October Davis decided to change gears from swing to sweet music, and both she and Musso left. Musso formed a new band with Van as vocalist.

In summer 1940, Van sang with Sonny Dunham. Later that year she was with Charles Dant’s NBC orchestra, leaving for a year and then returning in November 1941. In March 1942, Van joined Jack Teagarden’s band, touring with them before retiring in July to marry a fellow with the last name of Guzzardi.[1]

After her marriage, Van initially settled in the Los Angeles area but later moved to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where her husband’s career took her and their four children. The family later moved to Guatemala before returning to California. Betty Van passed away in 2005 at the age of 86.


  1. Guzzardi’s first name is not mentioned in any records. ↩︎


  1. Simon, George T. The Big Bands. 4th ed. New York: Schirmer, 1981.
  2. Guzzardi, Joe. “My Mom: A Life of Grace, Dignity.” Lodi News-Sentinel [Lodi, CA] 8 May 2004.: 4.
  3. Zolotow, Maurice. “Night Club Reviews: Club Tivoli, Juarez, Mexico.” Billboard 11 Dec. 1937: 22.
  4. Cohen, Joe. “Night Clubs-Vaudeville: Fox, Philadelphia.” Billboard 17 Jun. 1939: 23.
  5. Honigberg, Sam. “Night Club Reviews: Blackhawk Cafe, Chicago.” Billboard 29 Jul. 1939: 17.
  6. “Vido Musso--Johnny Davis Split Their Band Partnership.” Down Beat 1 Oct. 1940: 1.
  7. Honigberg, Sam. “Night Club Reviews: Blackhawk Cafe, Chicago.” Billboard 28 Oct. 1939: 18.
  8. Rickey, Gene. “Kenny Baker Can't Miss.” Down Beat 1 Jun. 1940: 18.
  9. Hyltone, David. “Sonny Dunham Band Shaping Up.” Down Beat 1 Jul. 1940: 6.
  10. “Sonny Dunham Saves a Life.” Down Beat 1 Aug. 1940: 13.
  11. “Orchestra Notes.” Billboard 29 Nov. 1941: 11.
  12. “Betty Van Joins Big Tea; Kallen Set for Screen.” Down Beat 15 Apr. 1942: 12.
  13. “Ester Todd is New Tea Chirp.” Down Beat 15 Aug. 1942: 6.
  14. “Stars to Shine at Nat Park Opening.” The Spokesman-Review [Spokane, WA] 13 May 1942: 5.
  15. “United States, Social Security Numerical Identification Files (NUMIDENT), 1936-2007,” database, FamilySearch ( : 11 February 2023), Betty Van.
  16. “United States Census, 1920,” FamilySearch ( : Sun Mar 10 06:59:28 UTC 2024), Entry for James R Vanderver and Jessie B Vanderver, 1920.